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Arsenal report: Wild Nicolas Pepe ‘contract clause’ rumour suggests why the record signing isn’t playing for the Gunners

Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe
(Image credit: PA)

Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe is staring down the barrel of an exit from north London - and may never play for the Gunners again.

Yet if rumours are to be believed on social media, as much of that has to do with an appearance clause in his Arsenal contract as his poor form.

The Ivorian signed for a stunning £72m from Lille back in 2019 for Unai Emery, smashing the previous transfer record held by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Pepe was tipped for big things in the Premier League after strong performances in Ligue 1 but has underperformed in England.

The winger actually started the season under Arteta on the right flank, keeping Bukayo Saka on the left until the North London Derby win. But now, rumours have been circulating on social media that Pepe only has to play a few more games for Arsenal before the Gunners owe Lille a significant fee as an appearance bonus.

Most transfers are calculated with amortisation rather than up front payments. It is likely that Arsenal have made deals in the last few years that they are still paying for - while figures that fans hear for players can vary based on milestones reached. 

Still, this is unlikely to be the reason that Mikel Arteta are reluctant to play Pepe. 

In the aftermath of the statement signing, reports came out of a barbecue involving Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, his director son Josh and then-members of the club’s hierarchy Raul Sanlehhi and Vinai Venkatesham, along with manager Unai Emery. 

It was claimed that between the party, a pitch was made to the ownership to make the money available for the tricky wide man.

The Kroenkes were believed to have financed the entire transfer. In no point over the last two years has a clause been mentioned - with Pepe making substitute appearances and playing in runs of poor form in which Arteta might have been otherwise persuaded to rest the player.

While the rumour would make some sense, it is most likely to be unsubstantiated. Still, Arteta is thought to be keen on selling Pepe and Arsenal are thought to be holding out for £25m in the next two transfer windows.

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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT